To Meet Your Goals, Surround Yourself with Go-Getters

August 31, 2011 · 17 comments

Last night as I was leaving the gym, I listened to a new voicemail from a friend. “You inspired me,” he said. “I quit my job!”

My jaw dropped. Eyes widened. I’m all about living for your dreams and I love that my most recent Leap has inspired others to do the same but… He quit his job?! Suddenly I wondered how many other readers had up and quit, too. Anyone? Anyone?

I strongly believe that if you want to quit your job, you can find a way. But here’s my parental side kicking in: Before you quit, have something else lined up, whether it’s another full-time job, a plan for self-employment or some other out-of-the-box setup. (And yes, my friend did. Phew.)

That means until you’re at the point where you have a plan, use your job to get where you want to be. This is what I like to call Scheming: turning your hopes into action. In other words, giving yourself a kick in the ass.

The difficulty is knowing when you’ve crossed over from I-want-to-quit-but-I’m-not-quite-ready to hell-yeah-I’m-prepared-let’s-go. Because you will never feel totally ready. You will feel anxiety until the moment you make the decision. You will not be able to tell Good Fear from Bad Fear.

And yet, there’s something comforting about knowing that it can be done. That I didn’t combust after quitting my day job, and that I feel happier than ever this week, even though I’m still figuring out where part of my income will come from. (I’m planning a more comprehensive post about the financial side of this, by the way, because I think that’s the scariest part about making this sort of life change.) Even though my career is entirely different than my friend’s, seeing that it could be done set a fire inside him.

Who doesn't love being surrounded by enthusiasm?

In fact, now that I’m writing this post, I’m realizing that I had someone who went before me, too, a go-getter who showed me it could be done. My friend Jacci, who has become both a business partner (we share a client) and a sounding board for my projects, quit her full-time journalism job a month or two before me to grow her social-media strategy business. Having her support is partly what made my transition feasible — at least in my mind.

The truth, of course, is that we all have guts buried inside us, but sometimes it takes a friend to lure them out.

When I told Jacci she played a role in my decision, she said she felt like she was able to make the transition partly because she had her husband’s support. Which means her husband is responsible for her Leap, my Leap and my friend’s Leap, right?

My point here is that for whatever reason, it’s easier to make Leaps when people around you are making them, too. That doesn’t mean you should defend the status quo just because you have to be the first in your circle to live outside your comfort zone. But it does reinforce the importance of surrounding yourself with people who not only support your dreams, but also follow their own.

So whether you find them in the next cubicle over, at an event that’s intended to inspire or in the blogosphere, seek out people who stuff their lives full of awesome. Before you know it, you’ll be brimming with awesome, too.

Speaking of, can I get a what-what for this community of awesome? Because you all have inspired me over the last two weeks with your stories in the comments. I love all the Scheming going on here!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea August 31, 2011 at 7:47 am

Woohoo!!

So much is determined by the company you keep!
Andrea recently posted…A paradox of modern life: Comfort is a nooseMy Profile

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Alexis Grant August 31, 2011 at 7:57 am

That’s why I love YOU as company :)

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Shawndra Russell August 31, 2011 at 9:18 am

Thanks for sharing your friend’s reaction. That is AWESOME for him and supportive of your decision simultaneously which is rad. I had a friend post this on my facebook wall recently: “Keep away from people that try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great–Mark Twain” and she coupled that with the comment “made me think of you.” I got teary-eyed just knowing that in some small way I have been inspiring to her since I quit my full-time gig two months ago (and obviously this post was so supportive of her and greatly appreciated by me!). Your post also makes me think of Bradley Trevor Greive’s Meaning of Life photo book. HIGHLY recommend as a fun, inspirational reminder about taking leaps and inspiring others to do the same.
Shawndra Russell recently posted…Blog Break!My Profile

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures August 31, 2011 at 9:34 am

Such an inspiring post! I’ve always surrounded myself with people who dream big!!

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Emily on the Prairie August 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Lots of great stuff here and I think you’re totally spot-on.
When I wanted to not only quit my job but downshift, I didn’t know anyone who’d done the same thing. Finding blogs written by people who’d done it and identifying with their reasoning as to WHY they did it was so validating; made me feel less alone. Above all, in retrospect, finding those people somehow gave me the permission I wanted or needed from myself to take the leap. I am sure your blog serves other people that same way.
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Jaclyn August 31, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Thanks so much for the shout out Lexi! I feel honored to have helped facilitate your leap in any way :) It’s funny how stuff like this does tend to have a domino effect. When I started telling everyone about my plans to leave my full-time job, I was nervous about the potential questions about my business plan etc. But I ended up being amazed at how people probed me to see if they could do the same thing! So many people have this desire and one of the most awesome things about going off my own has been to have the conversations with others who want to make it happen for themselves! Great post… thank you for sharing :)
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Drew Meyers September 8, 2011 at 3:15 am

Totally totally agree with you — the conversations and interactions that come as a result are invaluable. When I left my amazing job in early 2010, many many people thought I was out of my mind. And who knows, maybe I was. But the last two years have been beyond amazing…and I never would have had those experiences (I traveled most of 2010) had I stayed at my 9-5 job. And everyone else I talk to seems to want to do the same thing..it’s just gathering the guts to make it happen that’s the challenge.
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Sarah September 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm

This is another reason why I love blogs – even if your current community of friends aren’t making big leaps (yet), someone in the blogosphere is. I have met so many inspiring bloggers who get me on the go-for-it bandwagon. And I could not be more happy!

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Alexis Grant September 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Yes, yes, YES!

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Kara December 16, 2012 at 9:10 pm

So true! Thank goodness for the Internet!

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Prime September 6, 2011 at 4:56 am

This is why I stopped meeting up with people full of negative energy and do nothing more than complain about their jobs, their lovelife, their stress etc… They’re just not worth it and steal my energy.

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Kara December 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm

My hurdle right now is how to surround myself with the types of positive-thinking, creative and brave people who challenge me and themselves the way I try to. I found these surroundings more in college and travels afterwards, but now I work at a newspaper in a rural area. It’s where I currently want to be for a variety of reasons (though I’m definitely scheming about the future) but sometimes in desolate social landscapes there’s a choice between being totally isolated and spending time with people who aren’t exactly critical thinkers or out-of-the-box innovators. I have a tough time deciding which path to take. Joining the board for the arts council has helped here, though. Anyone have other suggestions for surrounding yourself with positive energy?
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